The EcoGrrl Interview: Jonell



Jonell is an entrepreneur, web developer, and writer living in Portland, OR.  She has a number of tech projects in motion including her recently launched company website, Quarkspring.  I first met Jonell when I spoke at Girl Geek Dinners this fall, and am excited that she’s participating in this interview.  What an amazing person!

What or who inspires you most? At the risk of sounding selfish, I would have to say me. If inspiration means “to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”, then I do that the most for me. But outside of myself, I would have to say it’s the forest. I always feel inspired when I’m deep in the woods.

What do you turn to when you need strength? I read. Somehow, escaping into a world of imagination blots out the stress of my everyday and helps me process my feelings so I can return and face the crap.

How can women best support and/or empower other women? By being supportive. By being kind rather than right. By asking questions instead of judging.

What do you love to grow? What would you like to try growing someday? I’m not very good at growing things. In fact, everything I’ve tried to grow has died, even the cactus. Something about too much or too little water. Someday, I’d like to grow a vegetable garden, but it’s a big step for someone with a black thumb like mine.

What are your creative outlets?  Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but you haven’t? I like to knit, quilt, draw, write, create websites, cook, and bake. I’ve always wanted to get involved in the theater, but I haven’t yet, at least not as an adult.

In what environment(s) do you feel most in your element? In the forest. In a small boat on the water.

Who are your top three nonprofits you support and/or volunteer with and why?

  1. Foundation Beyond Belief— their humanist focus

  2. Plan USA – their work at the community level.

  3. Sunnyside Environmental School PTSA – my kids are students there and what the school is doing is vital to the next generation.

What recent “green” change have you made in your own life?  What’s next? We moved from a neighborhood with a walk score of 32, to a neighborhood with a walk score of 97. So we are not driving nearly as much as we were. Next, I’m considering going vegetarian.

Where in the world do you consider a sanctuary?  Why? My family cottage in Canada is a sanctuary for me. I spent my summers there as a child, got married there, and blame it for my love of lake and forest.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Consider the advice of others as advice; not as commands or judgment. Don’t drop high school physics.

How can we as a society be more radical in supporting a healthy planet? Teach more science, and the importance of science, to adults and children. Lack of scientific thinking is undermining environmental efforts.

What sparked your interest in environmental issues?   What’s the first “eco” thing you ever did? The town where I grew up was one of the first to implement blue box recycling in the 80s. I remember helping to sort the cardboard and papers and glass. The idea of reducing, reusing, and recycling was very powerful to me as a kid.

How do you live simply? We have no debt, we don’t buy a lot of things, we have a small home, we walk instead of driving as much as possible, we don’t eat fast food, we recycle, we reuse, we think about the impact of our actions on the larger world.

Could you leave us with a favorite quote of yours? “Autonomy, mastery, purpose. If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine


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